Frontiers in Chemical Biology Seminar

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Online Event
Expanding the Synthetic Capabilities of Yeast
Virginia Cornish, Helena Rubinstein Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Columbia University,

This event will take place on Zoom.

In vitro directed evolution allows biomolecules with new and useful properties to be

engineered—mimicking natural evolution on an experimentally accessible time scale by

creating large libraries of DNA mutants using PCR and then carrying out a high-throughput

assay for variants with improved function. To provide a breakthrough in the complexity of

libraries that can be readily searched experimentally for synthetic biology and to allow

systems to be directly engineered in the cell, my laboratory is engineering S. cerevisiae so

that both the mutagenesis and selection steps of directed evolution can be carried out entirely

in vivo, under conditions of sexual reproduction. We have built a modular chemical

complementation assay, which provides a selection for diverse chemistry beyond that natural

to the cell using themes and variations on the yeast two-hybrid assay. In addition, we devised

a heritable recombination system, for simultaneous mutagenesis and selection in vivo under

conditions of sexual reproduction. Finally, we have begun to utilize these mutagenesis and

selection technologies to engineer yeast to carry out new functions themselves ranging from

being a biosensor, to a therapeutic, to a self-organizing community.

For more information, please contact Annette Luymes or Rena Rasti-Becerra by phone at x6016, x6151 or by email at,